Balfour Beatty and Ferrovial have pulled out of the running for the £118m New Wear Bridge, leaving Vinci to battle it out with Graham Construction.
CN revealed the four contractors were in the hunt for the scheme in October, and a winning contractor is due to be revealed in April. Skanska had previously been interested in the job.
A Sunderland City Council spokesman confirmed that two bidders remained attached to the scheme, but insisted the project was on track to be decided within original timeline and that there were no concerns over the viability of the scheme.
Bridge experts have told CN sister title NCE that the scheme is a “staggeringly poor example of bridge engineering” and a “scandalous waste of public funds”.
However Sunderland City Council pointed to the fact that the project had been allocated £82.56 million by the Department for Transport and had been “rigorously designed, costed, admired and backed within the industry and profession” as well as winning a CEEQUAL award.
Sunderland City Council leader Cllr Paul Watson said: “Submitting a bid of this scale is not something international construction companies enter into lightly. Market forces determine that these companies must align their resources with the projects available to them.
“With two internationally-acclaimed contractors in the bidding process, Sunderland City Council is confident that it can deliver a landmark, affordable, and much needed new bridge across the Wear. As was demonstrated on the ‘Best and Final Bid’ submitted to DfT - the project represents a very high return for the taxpayer, at a public value of £4 generated for every £1 spent.”
The DfT announced in December last year that it would offer £82.56m towards the total cost of the new road crossing over the River Wear. The announcement was part of £586m in funding to unlock 21 local authority transport schemes worth more than £850m.
Sunderland City Council announced in February last year that it was holding talks with interested contractors for the scheme - originally projected to cost more than £130m until the council cut its request for funding from the DfT by more than £15m.